MIT Uses RoboClaw Solo in Ventilator Prototype
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic a multi-disciplinary team at MIT has developed a low-cost ventilator prototype. The team calls the device the "E Vent" and they estimate the device can be built for a total cost of $500; much lower than the cost of a commercial ventilator. The ventilator prototype is built around a manual ventilator known as an ambu bag. With the help of a gearmotor, motor controller and a microcontroller the manual bag becomes a fully automated device.
In the current version of the ventilator, the team at MIT chose to use BasicMicro's RoboClaw Solo single channel motor controller to control the device's gearmotor. The Solo is able to provide precision position and speed control by using feedback from the motor's integrated encoder.
Feedback from the FDA about the device is the next step towards getting the device in the hands of clinicians, however full approval from the FDA will be required to begin production of the ventilator. The current design is an evolution of an earlier prototype developed in a medical device course offered by the institution. It has taken into account input from healthcare providers as well as engineers. Critically, it features built-in fault tolerance.
The E Vent is an open source design and the full design details can be found at: https://e-vent.mit.edu/
Despite the open source nature of the design, the team notes that this is not intended as a DIY project and instead should be used by those experienced in medical device design and construction.